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2014 Marketing Strategy Starts with a Strong Benchmark Assessment
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By: Jessica Miller

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November 27th, 2013

2014 Marketing Strategy Starts with a Strong Benchmark Assessment

Marketing Strategy

2014-marketing-strategy-1Before you update a single buyer persona profile or competitive research deck this year … ask if you, your team, and your business’ decision makers have a solid understanding of existing marketing resources, performance and goals.

The most successful marketing campaigns start early—before the planning and discovery processes—with an honest and comprehensive assessment that ensures expectations are aligned across your business. Consider answers to the following:  

  • Does the marketing plan reflect our organization’s top overarching business goals?
  • How does leadership within the organization plan to quantify success of overarching goals and objectives?
  • How do marketing efforts tie in—how does marketing drive tangible results?
  • What are the metrics we’ve been tracking, and how does performance measure up? What were our top performing assets or campaigns?
  • Are marketing goals attainable? 

By evaluating and scoring your current business and marketing performance, you can devise the right marketing strategies based on aligned goals and assets; allocate time, money and talent; and adapt resources and priorities based on performance.

We’ve created Marketing Score, a free online assessment tool, to help organizations take stock of current marketing performance. The survey is comprehensive—including core areas of overall business and marketing performance, lead sources, marketing team, technology utilization, and more.

Invite Key Players Across Your Organization

Gain perspective from multiple internal stakeholders to ensure aligned goals and expectations. 

Who should take Marketing Score? In short, anyone involved in the business’ strategic direction and decision-making. Invite your marketing managers of course, and also involve sales leaders and the c-suite to gauge perceptions company-wide. In many instances, CMO perceptions of marketing performance will vary from CEO perceptions—and that’s an open door for conversations critical to alignment and advanced performance.

Setting the tone for an open conversation with input from players across the organization is critical for organizational buy-in and long-term success.

Establish Purpose 

If the notion of overall business and marketing alignment is not enough, remind participants that every marketing plan starts with an internal assessment of your organization’s foundation, platform, expectations, and potential. The “why” behind their responses to the in-depth survey can fuel better responses throughout.

  • Foundation: It’s critical to have foundational elements in place that will enable your team to reach its goals. For example, if you’re unable to utilize a CMS, CRM or marketing automation technology, you may have trouble sending quality leads to your sales team. What is the strength of your existing website, brand, business model, marketing technology, team, and processes? And realistically, how much building work needs to be done to enable the type of results you’re aiming for?
  • Platform: How extensive is your reach and influence among key audiences, such as customers, leads, partners, peers, media, and employees? What are your top performing campaigns, and what kind of results have they historically generated?
  • Expectations: What are your business’ priority needs and goals, and how do they align with your existing team, technologies, and overall resources? Are your goals realistic, and in line with expectations across the business?
  • Potential: What is the potential for short- and long-term success based on existing assets, and how much work will it take to improve areas of weakness? 

Explain to stakeholders that a subjective assessment aims to identify gaps in perception and performance—areas where your organizational goals are unlikely to be met by your current infrastructure, assets, or processes.

Actionable Post-Survey Insights 

While defining who to invite to the benchmark assessment, you’ll also want to designate a point person to collect responses, outline and compare key findings, then moderate a post-assessment brief for actionable insights.  

Here’s a quick 10-step checklist to get your team started on post-survey action items:

  1. Outline key findings, identify weaknesses and threats, and analyze opportunities. A point person can do this ahead of a group meeting, and/or send the overview to key players to digest ahead of time.
  2. List critical follow-up questions to gain further insight into survey responses, as well as organizational needs, goals, milestones, audiences and metrics. 
  3. Conduct secondary discovery research. For example, you can compare results of Marketing Score’s Section 5—lead sources—to actual metrics from the past year. Are perceptions aligned?
  4. Prioritize goals and define key metrics that will drive marketing strategies. 
  5. Build a custom marketing performance dashboard to continually track metrics. 
  6. Detail and prioritize foundational projects, based largely on weaknesses identified in  your assessment.
  7. Outline marketing campaign concepts, and align with audiences and key metrics. 
  8. Map marketing team strengths and consider outsourcing needs. Does your team rank well in the 15 qualities outlined within Marketing Score? Are there gaps you’ll need to fill?
  9. Forecast potential for improved marketing performance. Remember to be realistic. For instance, if converting leads to sales is your number one goal, yet you don’t have a CRM or marketing automation technology to aide the process, you may be setting yourself up for failure.
  10. Set clear and realistic expectations for your marketing team and agency partners.

For a more detailed resource about how to use Marketing Score results to drive performance, check out our on-demand webinar.

Or, register for a Marketing Score Brief, where a member of our team will take a look at responses and walk through a free, 30-minute strategy session with you.  




What’s Driving Your 2014 Planning?

This first step in the planning process is critical for overall buy-in, aligned expectations, and long-term growth. It starts with an honest and comprehensive assessment, back findings with data, then map existing resources or needs to your organization’s marketing goals.

What lessons in strategic planning have worked best for your organization? Curious to hear feedback on Marketing Score, as well as other methods in the comments below.

About Jessica Miller

Jessica Miller is VP and managing director of PR 20/20, where she guides strategy and performance, and champions the ongoing pursuit of building a great marketing firm. For more than a decade, Jessica has built lasting partnerships that connect marketing strategy to bottom-line business outcomes. Jessica joined PR 20/20 in 2011 with global agency experience. She is a graduate of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. Full bio.

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